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Jean Paul im Kontext der Naturwissenschaft (German Edition)

Both space and time are used to measure and describe the physical world, and both can be treated— graphically as well as conceptually—as dimensions. Lasswitz also combines modern science with older concepts of historical and cultural development. To the ancient ideas of eschatological historical progression, cultural development, and the improvement of human nature, he adds the notion of extra-terrestrial life and the theory of evolution.

One result is a belief—not without reservations—in the possibility of a "relative improvement of conditions through a gradual process of evolution" ZT p Another is a concept of the equivalence of travel through space and progression in time. Both ideas are of great importance to SF. Ever since science has incontrovertibly made the Earth into a planet and the stars into suns like our own, we cannot lift our gaze to the starry firmament without thinking, along with Giordano Bruno, that even on those inaccessible worlds there may exist living, feeling, thinking creatures.

It must seem absolutely nonsensical indeed, that in the infinity of the cosmos our Earth should have remained the only supporter of intelligent beings [Vemunftwesen]. The rational order of the universe [Weltvernunft] demands that there should necessarily even be infinite gradations of intelligent beings inhabiting such worlds. To this idea might be added the profound and inextinguishable longing for better and more fortunate conditions than those which the Earth offers us.

Indeed we do dream of a higher civilization [Kultur], but we would also like to come to know it as something more than the hope for a distant future. We tell ourselves that what the future can sometime bring about on Earth must even now, in view of the infiniteness of time and space, have already become a reality somewhere.

Even in his earliest writings, however, Lasswitz was aware that the concepts of philosophy and the content and method of modern science could be combined to produce visions of new worlds and cultures. Although in URBAW Lasswitz' interest was directed to non-terrestrial cultures, in the Bilder aus der Zukunft he described superior terrestrial cultures located in the future. In Auf zwei Planeten Lasswitz incorporated the equivalence of travel through space and progression through time. There he described the confrontation of contemporary terrestrial civilization with a superior alien culture, a conflict whose result is the gradual improvement of humanity.

We may question the validity and relevance of Lasswitz' cultural optimism, his rationalistic psychology, and his use of the concepts and terminology of Idealist philosophy. Nevertheless, these ideas and attitudes, in combination with his extensive knowledge of modern science, enabled him to reach conclusions about science, society, and the function of literature which are much the same as those which form the foundations of modern SF.

Lasswitz believed that science and technology had become major determinants of history, society, and individual consciousness. He also shared the conviction that the impact of science on the modern world and its future could be explored in an artistically legitimate form. He even anticipated and explained the preference in SF for future or other worlds as settings, and for astronomy and physics as sources of themes and imaginary scientific content. In his essays Lasswitz examined with considerable insight the kind of imagination encountered in SF.

As an aesthetician and writer he understood the creation of art to be a matter of conception as well as execution. In SF, particularly, both of these processes are often viewed as consciously methodical acts. The writer must construct a detailed and consistent imaginary world which is distinctly different from our own and yet does not directly contradict modern science. He must then use his literary skills to gain our emotional and logical acceptance of that world. It is therefore not surprising to find in SF a concept of imagination which claims to be rational and systematic rather than absolutely unrestrained.

There is also a corresponding preference for stylistic techniques which aim to encourage an impression of reality, rather than to create a sense of alienation or to remind the reader of the artificiality of the text. Lasswitz' ideas about imagination and literary technique in SF are very similar to those of many later critics and writers of SF. Lasswitz suggests that science, viewed as a strict discipline, has neither the capability nor the mission to exceed the bounds of its knowledge in order to speculate freely about the future or other worlds 13Z p.

If we wish to explore such ideas "we must turn to [the faculty of] imagination [Phantasie]," but such fantasy "need not be unbridled," as it is in fantasy fiction ZT p.


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The "bridle," as Lasswtiz repeatedly states, is provided not only by common sense, but even more by the concepts, methods, and standards of science. Like the scientist, the writer of SF, even though he has greater freedom of imagination, thinks in terms of hypotheses, quantifiable factors, and formulas: Who can answer these questions [about the future]? Science cannot venture to do so, as long as it has not yet found the famous Universal Formula of Laplace, which answers all questions about the past and future and enables us to perceive the mechanism of the Universe in the same manner that this mechanism presents itself to the human intellect in the motion of atoms.

And yet there is a magical agency by which we can anticipate this formula and with one fell swoop lift ourselves beyond the reality which slowly works itself out in space and time in accord with [the laws of] mass and energy.

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This magical agency which enables us to lift the veil of the future is imagination [die Idee]. Fiction [Dichtung] has the privilege of looking into the future. But if that which fiction narrates is really to inspire in us a sense of trust, then fiction must take counsel with reality and conform closely to experience. Many inferences about the future can be drawn from the historical course of civilization [Verlauf der Culturgeschichte] and the present state of science; and analogy offers itself to fantasy as an ally.

The scientific knowledge of a particular time is part of the common interest of humanity The picture of the nature of things which we form in this field is an essential element of the total content of the culture and can therefore also become a subject for literary treatment. But fiction gives form to this its raw material by transforming it into a part of the personal experience of fictional characters. Now in this process fiction is much freer in its use of hypotheses than is science, whose business is to provide the objective knowledge. As long as he does not contradict the scientific knowledge of his time, the writer of fiction may expand the hypothesis in order to further those aims which he considers essential to his function.

In science the hypothesis must receive its justification through the ongoing process of experience, while in fiction the hypothesis is justified simply by its psychological utility, i. Lasswitz' choice of terminology makes it almost superfluous to emphasize once again the similarity of his ideas to those of later writers and critics of SF. The insight with which he outlined the process of "extrapolation" and the use of "analogs," key concepts in SF, is remarkable. His notion of the SF text as the formulation of a "hypothesis" also points the way toward modern theories of SF , which view the imaginary world as neither a pure fantasy nor an absolute prophecy, but rather as a "thought-model" similar to the theoretical models of reality proposed by the natural sciences.

In his earliest and latest essays Lasswitz also spells out the implications of this "scientific" concept of imagination in terms of literary aesthetics. As in the previous passages, he emphasizes plausibility, probability, and verisimilitude as principles of imagination and goals of literary style: We have endeavored to relate nothing which cannot stand either as probable or at least as not completely impossible according to present knowledge Here the difficulty of artistic representation places a natural rein on fantasy; it is essential to find the proper mean between fantastic fabulation [Fabuliren] and didactic explanation.

For that which is alien must be mediated to our understanding through that which is already familiar; this is not always simple to do and necessitates much and varied postulation [vielerlei Voraussetzung]. In the transformation [of speculations about science, the future, etc. For everything that occurs in a novel which is intended seriously as art must be capable of being related to our own experience, i. An effect which occurred simply by magic and could not be explained scientifically would be just as unusable poetically as a sudden, psychologically unmotivated transformation of a character Our sense of veracity tolerates no postulates which directly and absolutely contradict previous scientific and psychological experience.

As the two passages show, Lasswitz was aware that in SF the plausibility of the imaginary world is suggested and judged in several different ways. The sense of plausibility depends first of all on the creation of a general impression of correspondence between the imaginary world of the fiction and our own world of experience; or, as recent students of Realism express the idea, the fiction attempts to encourage a sense of "sharable experience" by suggesting the verifiability of its content. The scientific method, with its combination of hypothesis, projection, collection of data, and re-evaluation, is considered the model for sound imaginative speculation.

The particular natural sciences, which furnish the categories and standards by which the real world is most validly observed and described, are the source of the individual criteria according to which the validity of the imaginary world is asserted and evaluated. The next logical step in a theory about fiction in which the concept of imagination and standards of plausibility are based on science is the conclusion that science should be an important part of the content of the imaginary world and that such fiction might well look to science for help in creating particular stylistic techniques which would contribute to the impression of plausibility.

In his theoretical essays Lasswitz mentions a number of themes and concepts of imaginary science which he considers appropriate and challenging subjects for the new kind of fiction. Among them are extraterrestrial life, space travel, solar energy, anti-gravity, synthetic food, and differences in psychological sensibility in non-terrestrial beings or in new environments ZT p ; URBAW and TLM, passim. Many of these ideas are important themes and motifs in later SF. Lasswitz also hints at some of the major structural patterns and stylistic tendencies of SF, for example the preference for exciting plots and heroic characters ZT pp , Lasswitz' SF, however, offers a better indication of his notion of the stylistic techniques of SF.

While his works are marred by a relative weakness in the representation of character and dialogue, even the early stories in BZ are quite successful as evocations of imaginary worlds in which science and technology are important elements. In the short stories written in the Eighties and Nineties Lasswitz refined his science-fictional techniques, expanded his thematic repertoire, and moved toward a maturer conception of the imaginary world as a "thought-model" interesting in its own right, rather than just as a satirical allegory of our own world.

Lasswitz' conceptual powers and literary skills reached their highpoint in his modest best-seller, Auf zwei Planeten , which appeared in the same year as Wells's War of the Worlds. In this lengthy novel Lasswitz employs the archetypal SF idea of "first contact" to explore one of the fundamental themes of literature, the nature of humanity.

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Imaginary technology, speculation about alien biology, philosophy, character, and plot all play a role in the exposition of the theme. Many stylistic techniques which appear constantly in later SF are to be found in Auf zwei Planeten. Among them are technological neologisms, alien language, documental inserts and pseudo-scientific and pseudo-historical discourses.

Throughout the novel Lasswitz uses a measured, transparent, matter-of-fact narrative style calculated to win the reader's acceptance of the imaginary world. Despite his foresight as an aesthetician and writer, Lasswitz was more conservative in his speculations about the subjects and functions of SF than has been borne out by later SF, although at the time his ideas would have seemed quite visionary. In his theoretical essays he also did little more than suggest the general stylistic characteristics of an SF that was still embryonic.

Lasswitz was attempting to distinguish SF clearly from other literature, to establish its artistic legitimacy, and to argue the "scientific" nature of its form of imagination. He therefore concentrated on its more readily ascertainable features and emphasized its realistic and methodical nature. Later writers, better aware of both the possibilities and the supposed limits of their genre, would consciously seek to expand its boundaries and to achieve what had previously been considered unachievable.

William B. Fischer- German Theories of Science Fiction: Jean Paul, Kurd Lasswitz, and After

Technological consciousness, the theory of evolution, and the scientific outlook played a significant role in the social and aesthetic thought of the German naturalists. Another writer associated with the naturalists and realists was Hans Lindau, who published a biographical and critical essay on Lasswitz, as well as several book reviews. The publication of Auf zwei Planeten in inspired a few other reviews in German journals associated with realism, naturalism, and liberalism.

Beiblatt zum Berliner Tageblatt , , No. Kronenberg Die Nation , 31 December At least three major essays exploring SF from quite different perspectives appeared during the years of the Weimar Republic: While Dominik's remarks scarcely constitute a systematic and profound analysis, they offer important indications of the internationality of his SF. After the forced adaptation of literary criticism to Nazi party goals, the suppression of most German SF, and the termination of openly-conducted rocket research in Germany brought about an almost complete cessation of SF and SF criticism in Germany, although Dominik's SF novels continued to be published in mass editions because of their escape value and fascist ideology.

For all its variety and occasional historical discontinuity, German SF criticism, both older and more recent, exhibits a number of persistent characteristics which are already apparent in Lasswitz and even in Jean Paul. In effect the German critics combine the strengths and sometimes the weaknesses of the two traditional schools of Anglo-American SF critics, the academic scholars and the "indigenous" community of writers, editors, fans, and critics.

For the most part the German critics evidence a solid foundation in aesthetic theory and critical methods, an interest in philosophical and ideological discussion, a thorough knowledge of mainstream literature, and an impressive familiarity with both German and non-German SF. Each of these virtues, however, has its corresponding vice. One occasionally encounters a certain inflexibility of aesthetic concepts and terminology, a lack of attention to German SF, an insistence on associating or even confusing modern SF with other literary traditions whose importance to the development of SF may well be small, or a tendency to over-emphasize the political or philosophical implications of SF.

These traits may well have to do with certain factors in the German intellectual tradition, as well as the lack of a clearly-defined native body of SF and readership community distinct from mainstream literature. Despite—or perhaps because of—such differences in background and critical orientation German discussions of SF offer much valuable material to the student of SF. Jean Paul's provocative and remarkably prescient remarks on the new "fantasy" have a definite historical value and can also still contribute to our understanding of the fundamental relation between science and fiction.

Even as early as the turn of the century, Lasswitz was able to explore the idea of SF with the special insights of a trained and experienced scientist, philosopher, and writer. The better recent studies, too, can compete with those written anywhere. In my own work with SF, including German SF, I have found such studies invaluable in the interpretation of primary texts and in the evolution of a descriptive definition suitable for SF in general and for German SF as a form of literature which, for all its differences from Anglo-American SF, exhibits many of the same philosophical attitudes, scientific themes, and stylistic techniques.

All translations are my own. Where necessary I have sacrificed smoothness to achieve a closely literal rendition, since many of the texts are not readily available. For several reasons I have chosen to translate both "Phantasie" in some instances and the very difficult "Idee" as "imagination," even though the customary German word for "imagination" is "Einbildungskraft. The context in which Lasswitz uses "Idee" BZ page iii makes it clear that he means the process of imagination rather than "idea," "concept," "notion," etc.

Specialized bibliographies of early German utopias and imaginary voyages include Heinz Bingenheimer, Transgalaxis: All references are to Jean Paul, Werke , ed. In its thought and language the passage is reminiscent of the famous "golden world" passage near the beginning of Sidney's Apology for Poetry ; I would not consider a direct textual influence impossible. Despite the modern nature of his subject, Jean Paul, in his notion of aesthetics, clearly belongs to the classical tradition. When the Prussian government forbade preaching sermons in German synagogues, on the grounds that the sermon was an exclusively Christian institution, Zunz wrote History of the Jewish Sermon in This work has been described as "the most important Jewish book published in the 19th century.

Despite the outstanding scholarship of Wissenschaft personalities such as Zunz and Heinrich Graetz most of whom pursued their scholarly labors on their own time as Privatgelehrte , the Wissenschaft movement as a whole had a tendency to present Judaism as an historical relic [3] with frequently apologetic overtones, [4] and often ignored matters of contemporary relevance:.

Zunz felt obliged to assume that Judaism had come to an end, and that it was the task of Wissenschaft des Judentums to provide a judicious accounting of the varied and rich contributions which Judaism had made to civilization. In a similar spirit, Steinschneider is said to have once quipped that Wissenschaft des Judentums seeks to ensure that Judaism will receive a proper burial, in which scholarship amounts to an extended obituary properly eulogizing the deceased. Nevertheless, throughout most of its existence and despite certain of its most prominent practitioners, such as Moritz Steinschneider , being vocal opponents of religion, Wissenschaft des Judentums was very much a religious movement—pursued largely by rabbis at Jewish seminaries who were engaged in preparing their students for rabbinical careers.

In , Israel Hildesheimer founded the neo-orthodox modern Rabbinerseminar in Berlin. One of its most prominent scholars, David Hoffmann , defended a literal reading of the Biblical word which he understood to be the exact product of divine revelation. Indeed, one detects in the writings of many Wissenschaft scholars not only an intense love of scholarship "for its own sake", but also a genuine affinity for the rabbis and scholars of old, whose works they find themselves documenting, editing, publishing, analyzing, and critiquing.

Indeed, far from disparaging or despising the Jewish religion and its many generations of rabbinical scholars, the majority of Wissenschaft practitioners are very keen to take ownership of the Jewish scholarly tradition. They see themselves as the rightful heirs and successors to Saadia Gaon and Rashi and Hillel the Elder and Abraham ibn Ezra , and in those prior generations of scholars they see their own Wissenschaft spirit and likeness. In the Wissenschaft approach to scholarship, then, the earlier generations of scholars become "de-sanctified" and "re-humanized".

Wissenschaft scholars feel completely free to pass judgment on the intellectual and scholarly capacities of earlier scholars, evaluating their originality, competence, and credibility, and pointing out their failures and limitations. The Wissenschaft scholars, while respectful of their predecessors, have no patience for a concept such as yeridat ha-dorot.

Jean Paul im Kontext der Naturwissenschaft

For them, the classical authorities are no more beyond dispute and critique than are contemporary scholars; the opinions of ibn Ezra and Steinschneider may be presented in the same sentence without any sense of impropriety, and either one may then be debunked with the same forwardness. No doubt this de-sanctification of the Jewish luminaries provided further grist for the opponents of the movement. Although the Wissenschaft movement produced a vast number of scholarly publications of lasting value, and its influence still reverberates through Jewish Studies departments and, indeed, some yeshivas around the world, it is possible to regard the publication of the Jewish Encyclopedia in — as the culmination and final flowering of this era in Jewish studies Levy The choice of English over German as the language for this epochal work is a further sign that an era of German scholarship was drawing to a close.

In the early years of the new century the Wissenschaft culture and style of scholarship was transplanted to a certain extent to bodies such as the Institute for Jewish Studies at Hebrew University e.


  1. The Patriarch (House of Shah Book 1);
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  3. !
  4. The Wissenschaft movement drew criticism from traditional elements in the Jewish community, who regarded it as sterile at best, and at worst damaging to the religious community. A key opposition leader was Samson Raphael Hirsch. He and other traditional religious scholars representing urban and sophisticated Orthodox constituencies regarded the Wissenschaft movement as failing to meet the needs of the living Jewish community; Mendes-Flohr observes in this context that historians, by virtue of their craft, necessarily "transform traditional knowledge, draining it of its sacral power.

    The English title is The Philosophy of Judaism: Roth sees in this publication "the last product in the direct line of the authentic Judaeo-German 'Science of Judaism'" more commonly known as Wissenschaft des Judentums. Wolfson among many others—it is certainly the case that the Wissenschaft movement in Germany had by the s already ceased to thrive.